Suffolk trial kit may have saved student victim

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A SYSTEM being tested at West Suffolk Hospital could have saved the life of a student if it had been available to her ambulance crew.

East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) is running a trial at West Suffolk and Luton Hospitals on a screening tool to help ambulance crews recognise deadly sepsis.

Last week, the inquest was widely reported in national papers of a student who died in Maidenhead, Berkshire, after an ambulance technician mistook her symptoms for an anxiety attack. Only 20 minutes later, 16-year-old Klaudia Batyi stopped breathing. A post- mortem examination showed she died of acute bacterial septicaemia.

The man in charge of the Suffolk trial, Matthew Broad, the ambulance service’s south east clinical manager, said the case was an example of how sepsis is a hidden killer.

“If the student was that ill, I’m sure the screening tool would have picked that up,” he said. “This is one of the reasons we’re doing this. Previously, the education of all health service staff on sepsis has been lacking. Sepsis masks itself with symptoms that can be seen as other things.”

Sepsis is where the body’s reaction to an infection is such that it starts to affect vital organs.

Mr Broad said the trial system was in two parts. The screening tool is a checklist the ambulance crew runs through and if that flags up anything, they then use a testing kit to check the lactate levels in the blood. If that is high, they warn the hospital a sepsis patient is coming so they can give the right anti-biotics on arrival.

EEAST has been working with the UK Sepsis Group and has funding to test the screening tool until April and is trying to get research funding for a longer study to follow how well patients do after early intervention.